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Archive for May 2011

U.S. Government refuses to release photos of Osama bin Laden’s death, sparks controversy in America

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By Julia Sayers

The decision by the U.S. government to not release the photos of Osama bin Laden’s death has sparked controversy in America and all over the world.

There has been a large range of opinions on whether or not the photos should be released. Many of the people who want to see the photos are victims of the September 11 attacks, but there has also been a demand for the photos from U.S. officials and even allies of bin Laden. However, many people feel that the photos should not be released, for various reasons. According to a poll by NBC News, nearly 2/3 of Americans support the government’s decision to not release the photos. But 24 percent strongly believe the photos should be released.

Spokesmen for the Pentagon said that bin Laden’s body had been put in the North Arabian Sea after following traditional Islamic procedures. Before burying him, the U.S. used multiple methods to identify the body as bin Laden. A woman believed to be his wife identified him during the raid that killed him and a DNA analysis proved the body was bin Laden.

Many people, including the Taliban, refuse to believe the government until they see photographic proof. However, Shereen Elgamal, assistant professor of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, said that no method will ever satisfy.

“There will always be those who have their doubts,” Elgamal said. “So no matter which way the government goes, I don’t think any level of explanation will be enough.”

Like Elgamal said, simply telling U.S. citizens this doesn’t seem to be enough.

“It has been as much of a societal struggle the past 10 years to hunt him down as it has been for the government and I think we as a people have earned the right to see the photos,” said Elon University senior Devan Scott.

Bin Laden is the fifth person to be on the cover of Time magazine with the red x, something reserved for "history's worst." Photo courtesy of Time.

The government doesn’t want to release the photos due to the graphic nature of them and the fear that they could be a threat to national security. The photos have been said by officials show bin Laden with a gunshot wound in his forehead, the insides of his head visible.

President Barack Obama made the announcement on May 4 that the photos would not be released as proof.

“It’s important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence or as propaganda tools,” he said in an interview with “60 Minutes.” “That’s not who we are – we don’t trot this stuff out as trophies.”

Sarah Carideo, an Elon junior, also said bin Laden’s death shouldn’t be flaunted more than it already has been.

“We’re already getting enough bad reactions to the way we’re treating the capturing and killing of bin Laden and shoving it into peoples faces,” Carideo said. “I think its something we should be happy we’ve accomplished but it’s not something that will resolve all the issues we have.”

Elgamal worries that the photos could not only incite violence, but may also help to gain followers of bin Laden’s cause.

“It may stir emotions and instigate more violence and more hatred. I think its a negative cycle and if we can stop it, it really needs to stop,” Elgamal said. “I really am unable to see something positive with spreading around somebody’s picture with his brain tissue all over. It may even backfire by drawing sympathizers who were not originally supporting him. By looking at the poor man with his head partially blown off, it may cause others to feel for him and sympathize with his cause and question why he wasn’t brought to justice through the criminal justice system.”

Freshman Jordan Johnston also worries that releasing the photos could be dangerous for the U.S.

“I don’t think the pictures should be released because it would cause a lot of controversy and could be a threat to our national security if other countries see we’re showing his dead body everywhere,” she said. “I don’t think that will make them very happy.”

Other people think releasing the photos would be disrespectful.

“There is a certain level of respect that should be associated with life and death,” Elgamal said. “There is no need for the photos, but if people want actual assurances this death took place, maybe there are other ways than just releasing it to everyone. Because of the dignity of a human life, it is not about the person behind the life, it is the fact that somebody left this world.”

Leah Hoyland, an Elon senior feels the same way.

“Keeping the photos from the public is respectful,” she said. “He was still a person. If it were you, would you want to see photos of your dead family member all over the news? We’re acting like we won the lottery.”

NPR and Fox News have filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the photos to be released. People have also suggested the Obama administration invite key opinion leaders to view the death photos and report back to the public on the authenticity of them.


Written by juliasayers

May 12, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Bette Midler, Vietnam, NFL: Bob Owens’ “strange” life

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By Julia Sayers

Bob Owens is the assistant coach for the men's and women's tennis teams. Photo by Julia Sayers

Bob doesn’t sleep.

This is just one part of Bob Owens’ interesting, or as he prefers “strange,” life. Not many people can say they’ve had experiences comparable to Owens, the assistant men and women’s tennis coach at Elon University.

Owens’, 65, experiences started young. Since his father was in the navy, his family moved around a lot, living in Japan, Alaska and Hawaii. Owens attended Radford High School in Honolulu, Hawaii, the same high school Bette Midler attended, who was in the grade ahead of Owens.

“I knew Midler and she knew me because I was an athlete,” Owens said. “She was very active in the student government and had a nice voice even then. She was in the chorus and did all those musical theater plays.”

Owens played baseball and football in high school, but excelled at football.

“I liked the contact sport, for a teen with all the hormones running it was a good way to release a lot of energy,” Owens said. “I was the oldest of 13 kids so my frustrations of having to take care of them were taken out on the field. I couldn’t hit the younger kids but I could hit people in football.”

“But you’ve got a bullet in your back” 

After high school, Owens was drafted into the military. After boot camp, he tried to outsmart the system by taking extended training in jump school and then going with Special Forces to Georgia, but was eventually sent to south Vietnam to fight in the war.

“I kept thinking I could spend my time in the service just going through classes, but that wasn’t what happened,” Owens said.

Owens was stationed in Quang Tri Province in the northern highlands of south Vietnam. It was an 18-month tour of duty in Vietnam, but Owens was there for just short of nine months. His regular army unit of 65 men was assigned to intervene with north Vietnamese and Viet Kong infiltration of south Vietnam.

“They were bringing supplies in and our job was to cut them off,” Owens said.

However, while on patrol on October 28, 1965, Owens was shot in his stomach. The bullet came in below his belt and went out his back, leaving a part of the bullet still in his back. He spent the first few weeks recovering in a field hospital but was then moved to hospitals in the Philippines, Japan and Virginia before finally being discharged home to Honolulu.

“All I wanted was someone to make the hurt go away,” Owens said. “It felt like someone was inside me with a settling torch trying to burn their way out. The idea of dying, it’s not that you don’t think about it, but it’s not important. For me it was like I don’t care what you do but just make the pain go away. The idea of my mortality did not enter my mind.”

The bullet, which doesn’t bother Owens nor has any need to be removed, still surprises doctors when they see it.

“It’s actually become a comical part of my life. I broke my back in college and as the doctor was looking at my x-rays, he goes ‘you’ve got a bullet in your back’ and I said ‘I know that’ and he kept saying ‘but you’ve got a bullet in your back,’” Owens said. “I said ‘look, can we not let this bullet go to rest here? Find out what the hell is wrong with my back so you can fix me.’”

Five Years of Headaches 

After four years in the military, Owens attended Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. He had been recruited right after high school by the football coach and was able to get in touch with him again after returning home from service.

“He asked if I could play football and I asked the doctor on one of my checkups what I could do and he said ‘Well how dumb are you?’ And I said ‘Well I can’t be a physicist,’” Owens laughed. “But specifically I asked if I could play football and he said he didn’t see why not.”

Owens, left, played wide receiver for Guilford College's football team. Photo submitted.

Owens went on to play wide receiver for Guilford in 1968, graduating as a two-time All American in football. While in college, Owens met his first wife, Katherine Byrd.

“While I was in college I met a girl. Surprise right?” Owens said. “We got a long pretty well. We started seeing each other socially and as it got more serious I got to know her more than just thinking she was cute and all the stuff associated with young love.”

After dating for a little while, Owens found out Byrd’s uncle was the governor of the state of Georgia and she was from a very well-off political family. After getting married and divorced three years later, her uncle, Jimmy Carter, ended up becoming President of the United States.

“I found that out after working with Bob for three or four years,” chimed in Michael Leonard, men’s tennis coach at Elon. “He just threw it in like that’s just normal.”

“Well it’s not like I have a business card that says ‘I got shot. I married Jimmy Carter’s niece. Bette Midler was in my class in high school’.” Owens said. “If you live long enough, something funny is going to happen to you. It’s not like I planned these things out.”

While Owens was in graduate school in France, the World Football League was formed and Owens received two letters from their scouting organization, one for the Birmingham Americans and one for the Philadelphia Bell. These letters were sent to every college football player who wasn’t in the NFL. Open tryouts were held for the Bell in New Jersey, and Owens, who hitchhiked to the tryouts, was signed as a free agent in 1974. The team did really well the first two years, even playing in the first round of the playoffs. However, financial problems came up and the league folded. Many players from the league went on to join the NFL, and the Philadelphia Eagles signed Owens in 1976.

“I had a headache for five years,” Owens said. “Nowadays they yank you out of the game and won’t let you back in until your five days free of symptoms. But back then they would give you a whiff of ammonia and send you back in. So the most vivid thing I remember was five years of headaches. It was just a constant headache. Three weeks after the season is over, the headache will go away and you feel good but then you go into summer camp and someone will hit you and the headache starts and then never goes away because from that point on someone will hit you for the rest of the season.”

Owens ended his football career in 1979.

“I got tired of the headaches,” said Owens. “But the deals were rebuilding and it doesn’t take a genius to realize they start drafting certain players so you just call it a career.”

A teacher, a coach, a husband and a Lollipop 

After Owens’ football career, he started teaching at public schools in North Carolina. His undergraduate major was social sciences so he taught AP U.S. History, AP Psychology and AP European History. He got certified to be an athletic trainer, which also certified him in science, so he taught anatomy, physiology and sports medicine. Owens taught for 33 years.

Owens and his wife Wanda have two twin boys, Jay and Todd (pictured) and daugther, Amber. Photo submitted.

In 1979, Owens met his current wife, Wanda, on a blind date. They got married in 1980 and had three children, twin sons Jay and Todd, 32, and daughter Amber, 27. Owens also has a grandson named Brody, 5, from Amber.

“We call my wife Lolli, which is partly my fault,” Owens said. “When I found out I was having a grandkid I said I’d be damned if I’d be called grandpa or granddad. So Wanda asked me if l didn’t mind ‘Pop’ and I said I liked that. And then our names became ‘Lollipop’.”

Owens, who started playing tennis in college and is currently a member of the United States Tennis Association, came to Elon in 2000 under Coach Parham, the men’s tennis coach, and started working with summer camps. When Parham retired and Leonard took over, Owens became assistant coach for the men’s tennis team. A few years later, Owens also decided to help out with the women’s tennis team. He also teaches the tennis class at Elon. Owens has really enjoyed his time coaching the teams.

“The guys are extraordinarily easy to bond with,” Owens said. “They’re good people, they’re easy to get along with and they’re very coachable. They’re good citizens and hard workers.”

No sleep tonight 

Due to his experiences in Vietnam, Owens doesn’t sleep. He rests, but he doesn’t sleep. He stays in the “sleep onset” stage of sleep.

“I hear things; I listen to monotonous noise, like a fan moving, and if something happens that breaks it, I’m instantly aware of it,” Owens said. “And if you ask me something you’ll swear I’ve been awake all night because I talk just like I’m talking now.”

When Owens arrived in Vietnam, he was told there were snakes everywhere.

“When you’re in your tent sleeping, you have mosquito netting around you and the wind will blow through and run across the hairs on your legs and arms so I’d think it was a snake,” Owens said. “From that point on, I was just terrified, and it just established me to go into this one stage and stay there.”

In the sleep onset stage, Owens motors down, his metabolic rates and breathing slows, and he rests.

“I’m not an insomniac because I can motor down and lay down and get the kind of rest I need,” Owens said. “But I don’t have to have this idea of 6 or 7 hours of deep sleep. It’s not something I’ve done consciously or practiced. But it’s worked out fine for me. I need to rest but I don’t need to have what everybody else is getting in order to be refreshed in the morning.”

It has become second nature to Owens now. He always gets the rest he needs, even when he was playing football.

“It’s like the old saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Owens said. “It’s the way I’ve been for so long, it’s not even an issue.”

While most people find this interesting, Owens just thinks it’s strange, as he reiterated many times. He says anyone can have as many interesting experiences as he has had.

“If you live long enough, a lot of things are going to happen to you,” Owens said. “It’s not something you plan, it’s just life constantly doing things that are unusual and strange. Some aren’t always good, but it’s just the way it is. And it can happen to anybody. And it does, it happens to everybody.”

Written by juliasayers

May 9, 2011 at 8:54 am

The Abridged Math Tools for Journalists: Wickham Briefing chpts. 9-12

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Directional Measurements

         Directional measurements are things like time, rate and distance, and are necessary to journalism. When working with time, rate and distance, you have to make sure the units stay the same. The formula involving these three things is: Distance = rate x time. This can be rearranged also as Rate = distance/time and Time = distance/rate.

Example 1

A train is approaching a station at 70 mph, and is 200 miles from the station. When will the train arrive at the station? 

Time= 200/70

Time = 2.9 hours 

Other directional measurements are speed, velocity, acceleration, g-force and momentum. Be careful not to get speed and velocity confused. Speed measures how fast something is going where as velocity also indicates its direction. Most reporters will only have to figure out speed. The most useful formula for speed is average speed, which is calculated by dividing distance by time. Acceleration is also useful to find out. The formula is acceleration = (ending velocity – starting velocity) / time. To come up with ending velocity for a free falling object, you can plug 9.8 meters/second into the acceleration formula. But if you only know the distance it fell, you can use the formula ending speed = square root of (2(acceleration x distance)). One last measurement is momentum, determined by mass x velocity.

Area Measurements

Area measurements can often by done through visual analogies by journalists, but sometimes the reader might not understand the analogy, and that is where numbers come in. Analogies also fail to give exact numbers. Following are basic formulas for all areas of measurement.

Perimeter = (2 x length) + (2 x width)

Area = length x width

Area of a triangle = .5 base x height

Circumference = 2p x radius

Example 2 

A reporter wants to find out the circumference of a trampoline. The distance from one end of the trampoline to the other is 10 feet. 

Circumference = 2pi x 5

Circumference = 31.4 feet 

If you wanted to later find the area of a circle, you would use the formula Area = pi x radius^2.

Volume Measurements 

            Volume measurements are also essential to journalism. To understand liquid measurements, journalists must know common liquid conversions. For example, 16 ounces equal 1 cup and 4 quarts equal 1 gallon. To find the volume of a rectangular solid, use the formula Volume = length x width x height.

Example 3 

What is the volume of a treasure chest measuring 7 inches long, 4 inches wide, and 3 inches tall? 

Volume = 7 x 4 x 3

Volume = 84 cubic inches 

One last measurement is the ton. There are different types of tons: a short ton (2000 pounds), a long or British ton (2240 pounds) and a metric ton (1,000 kilograms or 2204.62 pounds).

The Metric System 

Even though it is not commonly used in America, it is very important that journalists understand the metric system, especially if they are dealing with international commerce. The metric system is based on multiples of ten and the decimal system. Users can change from one unit to another by multiplying or dividing by multiples of ten. Unit names are meter (length), gram (mass) and liter (volume). These are changed to make greater or smaller numbers by adding prefixes like kilo, centi, mili. When it comes to length, to change from American lengths to the metric system, there are set conversions:

–       inches by 25.4 for millimeters or 2.5 for centimeters

–       feet by 30 for centimeters or .3 for meters

–       yards by 90 for centimeters or .9 for meters

–       miles by 1.6 for kilometers

Example 4 

The length of garden tract was 50 feet. The requirements for the tract were 20 meters. Did the tract meet the requirements? If not, how long would the tract have to be in feet? 

50 feet x 0.3 = 15 meters

No, it did not meet the requirements.  So use the formula to determine length in feet. 

Length x .03 = 20

Length = 20/.03

Length = 66.67 feet 

Style points:

–       All units are lower case

–       Units are plural only when the numerical value that precedes them is more than 1

–       Symbols are never pluralized

–       A space is used between the number and the symbol it refers to

–       Periods are not used after unit names, unless at the end of a sentence

[All credit goes to Kathleen Woodruff Wickham]

Written by juliasayers

May 6, 2011 at 9:36 am

Steve Riley speaks about importance of investigative reporting

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Steve Riley speaks to students about the role and importance of investigative reporting. Photo by Julia Sayers.

By Julia Sayers

Steve Riley, senior editor for enterprising at the Raleigh News and Observer, spoke Wednesday about investigative reporting.

Riley started out as a sports writer but soon after found a job in news, where he was able to write more hard-hitting stories. In 1993, he attended a conference for investigative reporters where Robert Caro was speaking. After this conference he became interested in investigative reporting. Riley liked investigative reporting because he could say “I did the work.”

When writing an investigative piece, journalists must present a fair picture but not necessarily a balanced picture, Riley said.

“You must write with authority,” Riley said. “You spent the time, you did the work, so you are able to tell the reader what the truth is.”

The purpose of investigative reports is to tell the reader what the truth is. Riley said in investigative reports, readers will see a lot of flat statements and assertions.

Riley also spoke about the purpose and importance of editors in the newsroom.

“Editors are not just there to correct your comma splices and move paragraphs around,” Riley said. “They are involved in story development, decide the people we go see and the questions we ask, they make sure we don’t waste time and they make sure stories will have high impact.”

Since investigative journalism is about exposing the truth, the reports must have an impact. Riley said his paper doesn’t want to waste time on stories that won’t do anything. Investigative reporting is important for the country.

“Good journalism is indispensable to the future of the country,” Riley said.

Written by juliasayers

May 5, 2011 at 11:51 pm

SURF Day: Not just for science majors

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When students think of SURF Day, Elon’s spring undergraduate research forum, they often think of it as just being scientific research. However, many students proved this to be untrue by conducting research on dance, advertisements and technology. The following are profiles on four SURF presentations.

Lauren Kolodrubetz studied Time Magazine advertisements during the Cold War to see if the war was a prominent factor in the ads. Photo by Julia Sayers.

Name: Lauren Kolodrubetz

Presentation Title: Cold War Cultural Influences: A Content Analysis Study of Time Advertisements

Research Summary: Kolodrubetz looked at advertisements in Time magazine during the time of the Cold War to see how they were influenced by the war. She compared ads during times of high tension and low tension. Her hypothesis was that there would be more ads during the high tension time, however this was found to not be true. The content actually decreased in a steady decline throughout the war, but there was a consistency of pro-American ads.

Inspiration for topic: “I’m an honors fellow and I took a class called ‘Cold War and the Media’ where we had to conduct original research,” Kolodrubetz said. “There was little to no research on this topic so I chose to do it.”

What’s next: “For my honors thesis, I’m using this information and also conducting a three magazine study for the years 1952-1953 on ads involving safety and security,” Kolodrubetz said.

Amy Kenney researched how American students used Facebook as compared to how international students used it and what they use it for. Photo by Julia Sayers.

Name: Amy Kenney

Presentation Title: French and American Perceptions Regarding the Role of Social Media in Their Undergraduate Study Abroad Experience

Research Summary: Kenney looked at how students studying abroad and international students use Facebook – how much they use it, why, what purposes and how it affects their experiences. She found that American students abroad used it to keep in touch with family and friends while abroad, whereas international students used it when they came to America to connect with students at their universities. American students used it much more than international students and felt that it really affected their experiences, since they wouldn’t be able to stay in touch as easily without it. International students felt that it didn’t really make a difference and their experience would have been the same with or without it.

Inspiration for topic: “I’m going abroad to France in the fall and my advisor (Sophie Adamson) helped me come up with the topic,” Kenney said. “Facebook is everywhere so I thought this would make an interesting connection.”

What’s next: “I’m going to study this more while I’m abroad, kind of make it a case study of myself and see how I use Facebook and how important it is for me,” Kenney said.

Elizabeth Cooper did research on whether text and e-mail messages help in supporting young girls in the Alamance Girls in Motion program. Photo by Julia Sayers.

Name: Elizabeth Cooper

Presentation Title: The Effect of Supplemental Support Via E-Mail and Text Messages on Perceptions of Body Image, Self-Esteem and Social Support in 4th and 5th Grade Participants in Alamance Girls in Motion

Research Summary: Alamance Girls in Motion is a face-to-face mentoring program that pairs young girls in Alamance County with girls from Elon University. Cooper added an e-mentoring program to see if it would cause a difference, since face-to-face mentoring for a year doesn’t always maintain a difference later. An experimental group was put in the e-mentoring program, but Cooper found that there wasn’t a significant difference in perceived social support.

Inspiration: “I was a mentor for Alamance Girls in Motion and wanted to come up with a way to help,” Cooper said.

What’s next: “I’m going to continue to help out with Alamance Girls in Motion after the year, probably throughout the summer,” Cooper said.

Krysten Malcolm, an Elon senior, researched muscle activation in dancers. Photo by Julia Sayers.

Name: Krysten Malcolm

Presentation Title: Kinetics and Kinematics of Passé Relevé Balance in Dancers

Research Summary: Malcolm tried to find the pattern of core activity in one-leg balance while trying to pinpoint the muscle activity and body position involved in stability. She compared core muscle activity of trained ballet dancers and untrained counterparts by looking at the kinematic and kinetic measures of core stability. She found that dancers balanced longer in the positions and contract their obliques on the opposite side of the fall direction while non-dancers tended to sway more and contract on the same side of the fall direction. She also found that individuals engage different contraction patterns depending on external disturbance.

Inspiration: “I’ve been dancing for 19 years and wanted to research the methods of dance, specifically ballet,” Malcolm said.

What’s next: “I’m graduating and going to Physical Therapy school at George Washington University,” Malcolm said.

Written by juliasayers

May 2, 2011 at 8:57 am